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Page: 123
flash fire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2758
Posted:As per threads on 'favourite avatars' in Social Chat, I mentioned that I had previously found some interesting info on the psychology of avatars, which I had posted on another forum that I occasionally visit. It's long, but worth read....:

Found this interesting piece on the psychology of avatars here: http://psydok.sulb.uni-saarland.de/volltexte/2004/117/html/psycyber/psyav.html
This study was based on a particular chat community called The Palace. It's long and interesting - I found myself pinpointing HoPpers with their seemingly relevant psychological disorder and avatar type.



Written by:
We social scientists love to categorize the phenomena we study. So allow me to indulge my professional inclinations. One way to categorize avs would be to use well-known personality types as a guideline - for example, McWilliams (1994) system for psychoanalytic diagnosis. Although these types described by McWilliams are for clinical diagnosis, when translated to a non-pathological dimension, they also are very useful in categorizing "normal" personalities. The theme, characteristics, or interpersonal impact of an avatar may be closely associated with one of these specific types.


narcissistic - themes of power, status, perfection, grandiosity; draws for admiration and praise; feelings of being "special" and "privileged"

schizoid - themes of interpersonal detachment and indifference, perhaps combined with evidence of abstract or intellectual thinking; little evidence of warmth and tenderness; the "loner" themes

paranoid - distrust, isolation, hypervigilance, blaming or finding fault with others; cold, humorless, argumentative characteristics

depressive - gloom, darkness, loss, low self-esteeem

manic - energtic, grandiose, impulsive

masochistic - self-destructive, themes revolving around the "bad self" or "woe is me"

obsessive/compulsive - seriouis, formal; themes of control and perfection; shows evidence of a concern about details and rules

psychopathic - antisocial, violates rules; little evidence of shame or guilt; takes advantage of others; possible superficial friendliness or charm

histrionic - attention-seeking and seductive in flavor, dramatic, emotional, vain; themes involving dependency

schizotypal - themes of being aloof, indifferent; evidence of magical thinking or superstitious beliefs; peculiar characteristics

Another simpler approach to categorizing avatars would be to group them according to more general visual types. Here I'll outline several different categories of custom avatars. By no means is this list definitive or exhaustive. There are many ways to slice a pie. I've chosen these categories partly because some of them are fairly obvious, and partly because each one conveys interesting psychological and social themes - themes that, in some cases, overlap with the personality types described above.

(for each of these sections below, there is a link to a subpage that contains the same text, but with accompanying graphics)

Animal Avatars
Animal avatars are some of the most popular at the Palace. Some people come as their pets. Because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (e.g., strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), the animal chosen for an avatar probably bears psychological significance to the person - perhaps representing some real aspect of his or her identity, or some characteristic admired by the person. Thinking in the tradition of the Native American, we might even regard an animal avatar as being an individuals "totem" - i.e., a symbol of one's essential nature or potential.

Cartoon Avatars
When Bumgardner designed the Palace, he specifically choose a "cartoony" atmosphere. For example, the balloons that pop out from one's head when speaking is a carry over from the world of comic strips. Bumgardner felt that people would readily identify with this atmosphere and find it intuitively easy to use. The cartoony ambience also fosters a playful regression among users. Bumgardner wanted people to feel like they were "getting away with something" - which surely is a familiar theme in comic strip plots. As a result, it's no surprise that cartoon props proliferate at the Palace. While younger users (adolescents) may be more inclined to don cartoon costumes, older members frequently use them as well. The psychological significance of the cartoon character probably affects the choice made by the user. People select characters with whom they identify or admire. Some cartoon characters have very specific cultural significance and may even represent archetypal personality types (e.g., Bugs Bunny as the confident trickster; Aladdin's genie as the powerful but benevolent friend). Rather than relying on childhood cartoon figures, some adults wear cartoon avs of a more sophisticated style - some of these classified as "anime." The psychological tone of these avs tend to be more seductive, whimsical, or mysterious.

Celebrity Avatars
Celebrity avatars tend to follow trends in popular culture. And like items in popular culture, they may quickly become epidemic and then disappear. There may be a variety of motives behind the use of these avs. People may use them to express personality traits or social issues that are associated with the celebrity's image (sensuality, intelligence, power, corruption, rebellion, etc.). The user may identify with, desire, or be poking fun at these attributes. They may hope to bolster their self-esteem and identity by establishing their connection to the celebrity. They may simply wish to display a knowledge of current events in pop culture. Celebrity avs also advertise one's specific interests in entertainment in order to find like-minded users: "Hey, I like Seinfeld! Anyone else out there like Seinfeld?"

Evil Avatars
Everyone has a dark or "evil" side to his or her personality. The definition of "evil" varies from person to person, although usually it has something to do with malicious, aggressive fantasies and/or feelings of guilt. Note how many Halloween costumes fit this category. As a form of sublimation, evil costumes allow people to safely - and even creatively - express their dark side. While some members may wear an evil av as their facade for the evening (which may reflect their mood at the time), others may "flash" it as a momentary cue to others. Mess with wizards, for example, and they may flash their evil av as a warning that they're getting annoyed and may pin, gag, or kill you. On one occasion, I witnessed a male come on to an attractive female member wearing a real face prop. When her attempts to brush him off failed, she flashed a nefarious looking skull at him. He quickly backed off. Some people may use evil or aggressive avatars as a way (consciously or unconsciously) to alienate or "put off" other people. This might indicate their anxiety about intimacy and being vulnerable.

Real Face Avatars
Most users do not use pictures of themselves as their primary avatars. People prefer the partial anonymity of expressing only limited aspects of their personality through imaginative props. Or they simply enjoy the creative fun of experimenting with new identities through their avs. In more rare cases, members find the use of real face avs to be an uncomfortable, dissociative experience. "I have a picture of myself in the prop file but I really don't like to use it any longer than it takes for me to show it to a new friend," said River, a wizard. "It is a little disturbing to sit here at home and see myself speaking in cartoon balloons in a non-reality. Whew!!!!"

When users do present pictures of their real faces, it may be a gesture of honesty and/or intimacy - a sign of friendship, or even romance. Showing one's real face av can be a very poignant experience. Several members have described to me encounters when an intimate conversation culminated in their companion showing a picture of themselves. "That moment will stay with me for a long time to come," one member stated, "The value I placed on that particular moment was, friendship, trust, a sense of oneness." This same member described how there seems to be a pattern when an entire group feels compelled to use their real faces - what he called "face nite." For that period of time, the intimacy and friendship level reaches a point where people wish to step out of their masks and out of their anonymity. They want be as "real" as possible.


Idiosyncratic Avatars
These avatars become strongly associated with a specific member - almost as if it is that person's trademark. In some cases the avatar may be highly unusual or creative. Sometimes it is quite simple. Yet its association to the particular user is so strong that others experience it uniquely as that person. While trading props is a common practice, the owner of an idiosyncratic av rarely gives it away. It would be like giving one's identity to someone else to use. Conscientious members also don't "steal" (i.e., screen capture) an idiosyncratic av and use it as their own. They respect its integrity. If someone does steal and attempts to wear an idio av, they must be willing to put up with criticism by the friends of the owner.



Power Avatars
Power avatars are symbols of... well... power. Many, if not all, people have conscious or unconscious fantasies of omnipotence. Who wouldn't want strength and invulnerability? These types of avs seem to be most common among male adolescent users. In some cases the power theme is benign. Sometimes not, which may be a variation of the "evil" avatar. Because competition invariably accompanies displays of power, members seem to vie with each other in creating the most "awesome" power av. This competition is probably more common among the adolescent users. Members who persistantly display power avs may be troubled by underlying feelings of helplessness and insecurity.

Seductive Avatars
Female seductive avatars tend to be more common than male - although these female avs sometimes are "manned" by male users (see "Male Gender-Switching in Cyberspace") . In fact, the general impression among members is that males are more likely to prop up as females, especially seductive females, than women dressing up as males.

Members usually wear seductive avs to draw attention to themselves. This works very well. Male users, especially guests, quickly flock to a sexy female form. The owner may be interested in harmless flirting, or (less frequently) be advertising his or her availability for cybersex. I heard one story about someone's office friend who, when frustrated on the job, says "I need a Palace break" He then signs onto the Palace dressed as a sexy female and lures guys into bedrooms. Being sexy not only gets you attention. It also gives you power and control over others.

Some people wearing seductive avs wish to be admired as an attractive, sexy individual, without necessarily being interested in flirting or cybersex. "I have some very sexy stuff given to me by friends (all men!)," said one female member. "What do they say about me? Not quite sure, except that I would love to be younger and more beautiful and some of my avatars are that indeed."

A seductive, sexy, or simply "attractive" avatar can have a powerful impact on other members. Other members may display seductive avs simply to be admired for their skill in knowing how to create a seductive av. Because the Palace often feels like an ongoing party where people are going to flirt, playfully compete, vie for attention, and strut their stuff, it is almost a prerequisite that every experienced member owns a seductive av of some type. "Getting away with something" is an intrinsic component of the Palace culture, as Bumgardner intended. Having at least one seductive av is a cultural must.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. As one member said, "I don't really think that sexy type props are for me, just wouldn't be a true representation of what I'm about."

Other Avatars

Whenever we social scientists go about categorizing things, we always end up with a miscellaneous or "other" category. There is such a wide variety of avatars that it's impossible to neatly classify them all. The same is true of personality styles (which is the origin of the prop). Here let me briefly mention just a few other types of avatars.


Odd/shocking avatars are unusual, strange, and sometimes downright bizarre pictures - perhaps revealing people who like to surprise, goof on, or even startle and outrage others. Truly bizarre pictures might make you wonder about the person's grasp of social appropriateness, or even their mental health. Such very unusual avs are most popular among adolescents - for whom extreme behavior is a way to express independence and individuality, and to test the limits.
Abstract avatars may be used by people who enjoy enjoy symmetry, are good (non-verbal) conceptual thinkers, and/or are inclined towards visual artistic endeavors.

Billboard avatars are announcements of some sort - political, philosophical, personal. They are used by those who have something to say and are not reluctant to display their thoughts in a commercialized type format.

Lifestyle avatars, which are quite common and varied, depict some significant aspect of a person's life - usually something to do with occupation, hobby, or personal habit. It may be a way to attract like-minded individuals.

Matching avatars are designed to accompany each other and indicate the connection or bonding between the pair of members. Considerable imaginative and technical skills may go into creating such avatars.

Clan avatars - are worn by members of the same social group, some might even say "gang." These avs tend to be similar in basic design with slight variations to differentiate each one from the others. As such, each user announces his/her allegiance to the clan by adopting its collective visual appearance, while also maintaining some measure of individuality. It reminds me of the songs in some bird species. The species identifies itself and its members by a basic template that serves as the collective song. Yet each individual bird adds a small unique variation to that template in order to signify its individuality. Clan avs are found almost exclusively among adolescents for whom belonging to a peer group - and conforming to its standards - is a developmental hallmark.

Animated avatars contain motion, such as an eye tearing, a bird flying, or a flag waving. By visually diplaying "behavior" they can express a wide and subtle range of psychological meaning. Tapping a finger, blinking one's eyes, banging one's head against the wall - there are infinite expressive possibilties. The motion usually is cyclical and repetitious, which - depending on the type of avatar - may convey a feeling of persistance, determination, mindlessness, or rhythmic peacefulness.





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Konsti


Konsti

lovable smart-ass
Location: vineyards, Vienna, Austria

Total posts: 785
Posted:*scratches his head*
i have to read this, right?
wink


"is optimism in austria just a lack of information?"
-Alfred Dorfer

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strugz
BRONZE Member since Mar 2002

strugz

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Southampton - Possibly..., Uni...

Total posts: 3964
Posted:Intersting read flash, ive never really thought about the depth behind peoples avatar choice - i guess what this is saying is alot of us go ooo that one will do - yet that desicion is made subconsiously by our character without too much hesitation, almost as if we all have predifined pics out there which express our own characteristics, we just have to come across them and let the bit of our brain we dont have control of choose - whilst letting the bit of our brain that we do have control of think that we have chosen.............mmmm im now doing my own head in ubblol

"...We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing......."

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flash fire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2758
Posted:Let me paraphrase the relevant bit for you, personally Knosti:

*clears throat*

Animal Avatars
Animal avatars are some of the most popular... because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (e.g., strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), the animal chosen for an avatar probably bears psychological significance to the person - perhaps representing some real aspect of his or her identity, or some characteristic admired by the person.

Idiosyncratic Avatars
These avatars become strongly associated with a specific member - almost as if it is that person's trademark. In some cases the avatar may be highly unusual or creative. Sometimes it is quite simple. Yet its association to the particular user is so strong that others experience it uniquely as that person. While trading props is a common practice, the owner of an idiosyncratic av rarely gives it away. It would be like giving one's identity to someone else to use. Conscientious members also don't "steal" (i.e., screen capture) an idiosyncratic av and use it as their own. They respect its integrity. If someone does steal and attempts to wear an idio av, they must be willing to put up with criticism by the friends of the owner.


Now, I guess it's debatable as to whether your avatar is considered evil or not, however:

Evil Avatars
Everyone has a dark or "evil" side to his or her personality. The definition of "evil" varies from person to person, although usually it has something to do with malicious, aggressive fantasies and/or feelings of guilt.

Better?


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_Clare_
BRONZE Member since Oct 2002

_Clare_

Still wiggling
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK)

Total posts: 5967
Posted:Heheheh... ado-p, hope you read that biggrin

Getting to the other side smile

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:I dunno - I found the "seductress" and "clan" avatar descriptions most relevant to HoP ubblol

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:so I have an power, Idiosyncratic, evil, avatar, with slight odd (but not shocking [if my avatar is the only focus]) tendancies. With the focus on cutting off arms giving it a masochistic tendancy, also with schizoidtypal, and subtle bits of everything else.



So what the hell am I other then something I despise?



seriously?



maybe I shouldn't seriously pose this question here, but this thread is kind of upsetting, and I can't figure out how to classify myself other then "chamelon" and their isn't any freakin a category for that.



scratch chamelon. octopuss. without the higher functionings of a [censored] primate of the ocean, maybe like one of the smaller less sophisticated octopuss species common to pacifiac islands.




EDITED_BY: Astar (1100089849)


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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:oh and hear comes the unmentioned attention seeking confused ridicilous helpless pathetic person who can't [censored] understand anything of importance.

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flash fire
BRONZE Member since Jan 2001

flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2758
Posted:Written by: Astar

oh and hear comes the unmentioned attention seeking confused ridicilous helpless pathetic person who can't censored understand anything of importance.



As we say here in Australia, What The?


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:canadians and their avatar psychosies! rolleyes

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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UCOF
SILVER Member since Apr 2002

UCOF

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: , United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:So what am I then?

Or am I just unclassifyable?

smile


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:I would say UCOF is a version of Idiosyncratic avatars - the variation being that you vary them (more or less based on a theme, at least recently)

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:ucof I think your currenlty "historical"

also vanize is "pirate"

also, the psychosis which has been witnessed in my rapid typing, editeing, typing again, editeing etc.. isn't infact real, but a clever ploy to misslead.

Again, A clever ploy to misslead. You can see I am not exhibiting any signs of psychosis currently, evidence that I never did, never will or never have exhibted signs of psychosis. So look the other way at the next animated and hypnotic avatar that appears in this thread.


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:oh - flash fire: I been wanting to ask, where did you get your avatar? I seem to remember that picture from somewhere, and I have a suspicion it is either from one of the later versions of the dungeons and dragons "monster manual" or "monsterous compendum" for a fire elemental, or from a comic book.

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:I think popular belief and the reappearance of a waveing avatar should make people forget what they have seen in this thread and decide that anyone who either recognizes which specific D&D manual it came from, and also, if it is not from thus may be from a comic book is infact a psychotic. Because we all know in the 80's D&D drove anyone who dabbled with it to the brink of insanity.

If you need further distraction, if the avatar is infact from such a source (oh yeah if you saw "unbreakable" you know comic books drive people insane aswell) then one of our empowered moderators are infact insane, a worrying thing to consider.


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:Oh - I have known maddness, and am occasionally still willfully drawn to it, make no mistake about that my dear Astar! wink



besides - you have to be insane to agree to become a physicist! It's like a prerequisite or something...


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:So I can only be:
narcissistic, schizoidparanoid, depressive, manic, masochistic, obsessive/compulsive, psychopathic, histrionic, or schizotypal?

I picked mine cuz it was literally the only digital photo ever taken of me that doesn't show my face. I don't see how that makes me manic, depressive, or psychopathic. confused


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:but it does make you narcissistic!

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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UCOF
SILVER Member since Apr 2002

UCOF

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: , United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:and not slightly strange in the least...

smile

like me.

Isnt that all reassuring to know?


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Tao Star


Tao Star

Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol

Total posts: 1662
Posted:i couldn't figure out where i fall - what do you reckon?

i've always had angels really, i think maybe i'm trying to make people think i am one!


I had a dream that my friend had a
strong-bad pop up book,
it was the book of my dreams.

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:angels are probably narcissistic too.

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Pink...?
BRONZE Member since Apr 2002

Pink...?

Mistress of Pink...Multicoloured
Location: Over There, United Kingdom

Total posts: 6140
Posted:So what would you call mine? Cartoon?

Never pick up a duck in a dungeon...

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Astar


member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.

Total posts: 1591
Posted:cartoown power dange histrionic animal animated (if you look at it long enough it appears to move)

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:Written by: Pink...?

So what would you call mine? Cartoon?



nah, yours is narcissistic too. wink

actually, wouldn't dragons be a power symbol?


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Isn't ANY avatar narcissistic?

Isn't that the POINT?

Oh wait... I looked up narcissistic... I'm wrong...

"Erotic pleasure derived from contemplation or admiration of one's own body or self, especially as a fixation on or a regression to an infantile stage of development."

Um... I don't really get much erotic pleasure from my avatar. Though the photo was taken at a fetish party. wink


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton, United Kingdom

Total posts: 1626
Posted:That was very interesting. Shame my one's so boring really.. kinda hoping it wouldn't just be that I was looking for likeminded fire people biggrin I shall have to reconsider.

My old one (little floating dude drinking endless amounts of beer very happily) is similar really.. a lifestlye av. Hmm.


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:Written by: Astar


cartoown power dange histrionic animal animated (if you look at it long enough it appears to move)





Actually Astar, now that I look at it for a while (at your suggestion), your avatar reminds me of the picture for Dopplegangers in the D&D monster manual!



And then we have Pink...?'s dragon....



eek you are all dungeon's and dragons freaks!!!


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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OrangeBobo
SILVER Member since Nov 2003

OrangeBobo

veteran
Location: Guelph, ON, Canada

Total posts: 1389
Posted:I'm definately idiosyncric... Whoooo. And yes, I do in fact wear a lot of orange, and have a lot of orange things.

~ Bobo


wie weit, wie weit noch?
fragst mich, wo wir gewesen sind...
du fehlst hier

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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Total posts: 3899
Posted:Written by: nearly_all_gone

That was very interesting. Shame my one's so boring really.. kinda hoping it wouldn't just be that I was looking for likeminded fire people biggrin I shall have to reconsider.

My old one (little floating dude drinking endless amounts of beer very happily) is similar really.. a lifestlye av. Hmm.



could also be considered a clan avatar here!


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Skulduggery
GOLD Member since Aug 2004

Skulduggery

Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales

Total posts: 8428
Posted:Whats mine then........? Its just a doodle.

Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!

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filthy 23
BRONZE Member since Nov 2003

filthy 23

member
Location: USA

Total posts: 136
Posted:I think it's idiosyncratic and somewhat evil! devil esp. w/ your name "skullduggery or skulduggery (skl-dg-r) n. Crafty deception or trickery or an instance of it."

I AM working.

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Page: 123

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